What is WSDL? - Definition & Example

Instructor: Lonny Meinecke

Lonny was once a software programmer (video game industry). He now teaches psychology at King University. He has a bachelor's in IT and a PhD in psychology.

In this lesson, we will explore the XML format WSDL, often used in Java web development. We'll learn about the usefulness of this format and how it is structured.

What is WSDL?

WSDL, or Web Services Description Language, is a format of the Extensible Markup Language (XML). It helps web services communicate by sending data about their functionality and features to one another. WSDL uses a simple format to describe what each web service provides without you knowing much about that service beforehand. It exposes communication endpoints, which are spots that grant clients access to the service and allow web applications to exchange messages with each other.

The Information Desk

Think of WSDL as the information desk for a service provider. You may not know much about a service yourself, but you can access the information desk which holds all the information about that service, where all of your questions are understood and can be answered. Each service may have multiple information desks or endpoints, each serving the needs of various customers. It's all about the operations that each service performs and the messages it uses to interact with your computer, the client, so you can get access to the services they provide.

WSDL Structure

As previously mentioned, WSDL is a format of XML. WSDL code consists of little chunks of useful or meaningful information enclosed in named tags so that they can be easily located. They are called elements. Some elements used in WSDL include type, service, message, binding, operation, port, and port type.

An Example of WSDL

Here's a simple example of a WSDL file that describes a reverse phone directory lookup service:

Example of WSDL
Example of WSDL

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